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SPIDER JONES: Heavyweight Champion of Inspiration

By Mike Parker

Young Charles "Spider Jones was a boy with a dream. He wanted to be like his idol, Alan Freed, the disc jockey credited with coining the phrase "Rock & Roll". Spider was out-going, friendly, and optimistic, possessing the desire to achieve his goal. Then he was hit by racism.

In school, racist attacks became an everyday occurrence. Spider's confidence evaporated and his self-esteem plummeted. Spider gave up and dropped out of school. For years, Spider lived on the streets of Detroit running with a gang. He scrapped, stole, and was on a dead-end course that landed him in jail.

As he got older, Spider channelled his street smarts into boxing, ultimately winning three Golden Glove Championships. After boxing, he tried his hand at a variety of jobs, but learned quickly that he was once again stuck in a dead-end situation.

"When you haven't got an education, employers will exploit you, says Spider. "I decided that if I ever wanted to achieve my dream and provide a better life for my family, I had to get the education and skills."

His boyhood dream was once again alive. At age 30, living in Toronto with his wife and four kids, Spider quit working and went back to school. Attending Seneca College, Spider encountered a whole new set of challenges. "It was frightening. Here I was, 30 years of age with a ton of street and ring smarts, and I was in classrooms with 19 year olds."

The low self-esteem that had plagued Spider all his life returned, and he began to have doubts in his ability to finish school. "If it wasn't for the support of professors and counsellors, I would not have made it to the end." Spider credits Alvin Curling, (current Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario) then the head of Student Services, for "believing in me and giving me reason to carry on." Spider went on to earn two degrees in broadcasting.

Spider Jones book, "Out of the Darkness: The Spider Jones Story", chronicles his unrelenting rise from street punk to radio personality. Currently the host of his own show on CFRB, Spider dedicates much of his spare time to speaking across North America to kids, recounting his own journey from gang life to broadcaster.

Kids react well to Spider's message - that no dream is unattainable. "The kids are fascinated by my story and are motivated." In 2003, Spider was named Ontario's first ambassador for skilled trades. It was just one more way Spider could encourage kids. "They hear me and know that they can be something without being a rocket scientist." Dubbed the "Heavyweight champion of Inspiration", Spider takes pride in "motivating young people to be positive".

Going back to school as an adult is never easy. Spider has some advice to people considering it.

"Don't just think about it, do it. And don't quit. Just take a deep breath. Don't wait for opportunities - make them"

Spider's next book, "How to K.O. low self-esteem & bring your dreams into reality in 10 rounds", will give people a 10 step program to overcome adversity. "When you overcome any challenge, you will feel great!"

About The Author
Mike Parker is the Content Manager for and for various publications - Employment News, TheJOBguide, CAREERS Plus and Training Places - printed by Trader Media Corporation in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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